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Magellan eXplorist 710


michaelnel
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Camera: Picture quality of the 3.2 megapixel autofocus camera is remarkably good (up to 1600x1200 pixels), the low resolution video camera not so much (video resolution is only 320x240 pixels and playback is rough and jerky) . Photographs are automatically geotagged and can be attached to your notes for the geocache. The photographs and videos can also be viewed on the internal picture viewer.

 

Microphone: There is a microphone and speaker for voice annotation so you can record spoken notes in the field. These notes can also be attached to a geocache.

 

Feel: Feels good in my hand, solid and substantial. The large loop at the bottom is perfect for attaching a lanyard (although no lanyard is supplied).

 

Construction: The 710 seems very well-built mechanically, with O-rings to seal it against water intrusion. It is waterproof to IPX-7 specifications. The speaker, microphone and camera lens are all outside the sealed area, but I assume they are waterproofed some way.

 

Receiver: The SiRFstarIII based receiver locks in solidly and holds lock even indoors and in heavy tree cover and "concrete canyons" in the city. The accuracy and position jump around some when you don't have a clear view of the sky, but it seldom loses lock.

 

Memory: 8GB of memory is included, and there is a card slot for microSD cards up to 36GB. 8GB is a LOT of standard memory for a GPS!

 

Maps: Turn-by-turn navigation works very well, and the excellent Summit series USA topographical and City series USA turn-by-turn navigation maps with voice guidance are included in addition to the World Edition basemap.

 

Batteries: Comes with a pair of expensive, long lasting Eveready Ultimate Lithium batteries. Other brands usually don't come with any batteries at all. There is also a coupon included that gets you $2.00 off on a set of Eveready Ultimate Lithiums.

 

Altimeter: After calibration to my home elevation, the barometric altimeter seems to stay calibrated well.

 

Customizable hard buttons: You can assign frequently used functions to the two buttons on the side of the unit for easy access.

 

Display: The high resolution display excellent indoors or in shade when backlight is on, but it's another story in bright or hazy sunlight. See below.

 

Batteries: has settings for Lithium, Alkaline, and Rechargeable batteries

 

"Four CornerTM" menu: works well and is easy to get used to. Tapping the center of the screen once brings up the Four Corner menu. The upper left corner defaults to a "Dashboard" screen that has a compass display and 8 data fields. Each of the data fields can be customized to show the data you want to see on that screen. You can also choose a conventional compass display, a "Road" display that gives a psuedo-3d display of the road ahead like a car GPS, a rotating strip-style compass, a satellite display, a barometer display, an altimeter display, a display filled with data fields only, and a profile display. Tapping the upper right corner brings up the "One Touch" menu (see below). The lower left corner gets you the main menu, and from the main menu you can choose any of the top level functions or go into a Settings sub-menu to tweak the 710 to just how you like it. The lower right corner always gets you a context-sensitive scrolling menu that changes according to what function you are using at the moment.

 

"Dashboard" screen: is useful and easily customizable (see above).

 

"One TouchTM" Menu: This is a nice idea, but won't allow me to do some things I would like to have on "one touch" basis (for instance "Cancel Route").

 

Paperless geocaching: Excellent ... contains all the info you might need including pictures that appear in the cache description on geocaching.com. It does NOT include the gallery pictures though. This unit comes with a certificate good for a 30 day Premium membership at geocaching.com.

 

Support: The guys in the "Magellan Insider" group are super-helpful unpaid volunteers. The Magellan Product Manager for this product is very helpful and takes a personal interest in customer problems.

 

Cons:

 

Display: High resolution displays don't work well in bright sunlight and this one is just as bad or worse than the Garmin Colorado and Oregon displays. If you hold it at just the right angle to the sun you can read it easily, but at most angles it is so dark as to be unreadable. This makes it particularly bad for use in a fixed mount on a bicycle, where you will almost never be able to read it. It also has a strange interaction with polarized sunglasses that causes the whole display to appear in shades of gold. Anything white on the screen (including the white on black text during boot) shows as gold through polarized sunglasses. This makes it even more difficult to read than the Garmin hi-res screens which do not have this strange interaction with polarized sunglasses. The backlight helps, and it comes on when you tap the screen, but the backlight is also a major consumer of electrical power and the more it is on, the shorter battery life is.

 

Touch screen: Sometimes it is somewhat unresponsive, and scrolling through long menus (there are many) can be difficult to do without inadvertently selecting something. Later versions of the firmware have addressed this to some extent by adding up/down arrows at the bottom, but not all long menus have them yet. There are no slick features like multitouch as found on Apple touch screens.

 

System boot: It takes quite a while to boot up (about 1 minute) and acquire satellite lock. However, once it gets a lock, it seems to hold it well. Unfortunately, periodically the unit will announce it is "restarting to improve performance", and you get to watch it go through the reboot procedure again, and afterward it doesn't seem to have improved performance at all. It did that on mine five times in one morning geocaching session.

 

Route calculation: At least on my unit running the latest firmware (4.83 at the time of this writing), calculating routes can take ridiculous amounts of time. One day I was 1.5 blocks and one right angle turn away from a geocache when it decided it needed to recalculate the route. It took three minutes to recalculate the route. This was in an open area, clear view of the sky in all directions, all bars lit up on the satellite display and the dashboard indicating "excellent" for signal strength. It often takes a really long time to calculate routes, sometimes I have had to power-cycle it and when it comes back up it finishes calculating the route immediately. These delays in route calculation happen annoyingly often.

 

Keyboard: This is an incredibly poorly-designed implementation of a touch screen keyboard. They have split it into two screens for the alphabet and you have to keep going back and forth. Even if the word you are spelling is all on the second page, there is no spacebar on the second page so you have to go back to the first page to get a space, or to capitalize a letter. It is by far the worst keyboard I have ever seen on a handheld device. Hopefully they can fix this in the firmware. Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch have the keyboard Magellan ought to be emulating.

 

Battery consumption: This thing loves to chew its way through AA cells. They advertise 16 hours, but I can only see it doing this if the unit is turned off. 2700mAh Powerex NiMH cells are good for maybe 3-4 hours. Non-rechargeable (and expensive) Lithiums maybe 8. You can extend battery life by setting it to time out and go into a mode where GPS tracking continues but the display goes off, and you awaken it with a tap of the power button. This helps a lot, but every time it comes awake from this mode the compass needs to be recalibrated, which is pretty annoying.

 

Compass: The compass needs to be recalibrated frequently. According to the manual, to do it, you dig down into the setup menu and choose "calibrate compass", and it displays a diagram of a figure 8 pattern they want you to move the unit through while rotating your wrist so the unit is upside up part of the way and upside down part of the way. I do that, waving it around like an idiot for five or ten seconds and then it tells me "calibration failed, please try again". Sometimes I go through four or five iterations of this before it says "calibration successful", only to have it go out of calibration again in a few minutes. I have learned through the eXplorist user forum that you don't actually have to go to the calibration screen to do this, you can just look at the little red compass calibration indicator at the top of each screen and wave it around if it is red (it turns gold when it is in calibration), but you still have to do this very, very frequently. On the numerous Garmin units I have had, one calibration of the compass lasts until you either power it off and back on or change the batteries. This is surely a bug that needs to be fixed.

 

Menu system: Although the "four corners" menu system is a nice start, too many commonly used functions are buried too many clicks deep and on long scrolling lists that have no easy way to navigate them. For instance, if you are geocaching and decide to cancel your hunt for the current one, you have to tap the center of the screen to bring up the four corner menu, then tap the lower right to bring up the context menu, then scroll down carefully several screens while being careful not to accidentally select something (if you do, you'll have to start the process all over again) before you get to the "cancel route" choice, and then you have to confirm with one more press that is what you really want to do. I was hoping to be able to put this common choice on the "One Touch" menu that is accessed from the four corners menu, but that is not possible to do.

 

Further, it appears that if you do use the "Cancel Route" button it will remove all of the field notes in the "logs.txt" file, so when you get home and connect to geocaching.com to upload your field notes, the file is gone. Another bug.

 

The "One Touch" menu is again a nice start, but poorly implemented. It gives you twelve programmable buttons (the first three are set to be "Home", "Camp" and "Car", but they are only programmable to a particular destination, or a top-level function (for instance, canceling a route is not one of the available choices, but "Camera" is), or a customizable search. I think they ought to let you program any of those buttons to reach anything you can get to through the convoluted menu system, but you can't currently do that.

 

"Track Up" Navigation Mode: This really works poorly at low speeds or when you stop. The map and compass display will just randomly rotate and it is extremely disorienting to look at. I found this mode to be unusable unless I am moving along at a good clip. If you are geocaching and close to a cache, you are usually walking around slowly and looking at the display to get you close, and when it is randomly rotating it is useless.

 

"Paperless Geocaching" Mode: My unit, when approaching a geocache, will often get into a mode where the "Smart Arrow" still works in terms of showing you the direction to the waypoint, but the map will not update and the distance shown to the waypoint will not update or change even when walking hundreds of feet. It doesn't matter if the compass is calibrated or not, it just won't update the distance for long periods of time / distance, and then suddenly it WILL update it when you are a hundred feet on the far side of the waypoint. Obviously this bug makes it useless for geocaching, and for finding waypoints in general.

 

"Vantage Point" Software: This is a nice looking free software package to allow you to view stuff from your GPS and transfer stuff back and forth. It seems to have some serious bugs though in working with the 710. For instance, if you have it synchronize with the 710 or send waypoints and geocaches to the 710, it manages to corrupt the contents of the 710, and you end up with all waypoints and geocaches being listed on the 710 simply as "Error!" and they are all positioned somewhere off the west coast of Africa. There is a workaround involving deleting a file on the 710 and then rebooting it to let the 710 recreate it, but a user really shouldn't have to do stuff like that to use the product.

 

Summary:

 

The Magellan eXplorist 710 has lots of great features, but it has so many that are ½ way done and so many bugs that it seems to me it should have stayed in development and testing for another year at Magellan before being released on an unsuspecting public. At the MSRP of this unit ($550), consumers have a right to expect a more thoroughly debugged product than this. After a very very frustrating week of 710 ownership, I sent mine back to Amazon for a refund.

 

NOTE: I was able to determine through experimentation that if you hook the 710 to your computer in USB Mass Storage mode and delete all of the files in the USR directory, they will be regenerated during startup and many of the bugs noted here will go away. The tracking no longer "stalls" when approaching a waypoint or geocache, the "track up" spinning doesn't happen, etc.. Unfortunately, the corruption starts immediately and builds to the point where the unit becomes unusable again, and the only way to fix it is to delete those files again. That presupposes that you have brought along a laptop or some other way to delete the files though, because you cannot do it from the GPS interface.

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Great review, seems to be spot on. I also ended up returning my 710 as well. One major flaw with the gps that I haven't seen mention anywhere is the map detail. Residential streets and forest roads only show up when you zoom into .25 mile. And the ONLY map data shown on the screen above 1.5 miles, are lakes and interstates. The 710 does have and option to change the detail on the map, however, it did not change when the roads were shown. The 710 also would never update your position if you walked under 2 mph. I could easily walk 50 feet with out it even knowing it, which makes it less than ideal for geocaching.

While those were the main reasons I returned mine, the following did not help it either. The explorist suffers from extremely poor battery life (about 3 hours typical use), and the compass had to be calibrated anytime the gps was turned off or put into suspend mode. I don't think I will be trying magellan anytime again soon.

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I don't think I will be trying magellan anytime again soon.

 

Me either. If their latest greatest most expensive best unit was as bad as that, I don't want anything further to do with them.

 

I have checked (without posting) on www.exploristforum.com and although they have come out with a new firmware release that fixed some of the problems, the remaining ones would still drive me crazy.

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I don't think I will be trying magellan anytime again soon.

 

Me either. If their latest greatest most expensive best unit was as bad as that, I don't want anything further to do with them.

 

I have checked (without posting) on www.exploristforum.com and although they have come out with a new firmware release that fixed some of the problems, the remaining ones would still drive me crazy.

I have been using the 610 for a couple of months and other than being a bit more file orientated I believe this will give any other unit a run for its money as it is--"I guess by your comments there must never have been any software problems with the other high end units in the past"

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I don't think I will be trying magellan anytime again soon.

 

Me either. If their latest greatest most expensive best unit was as bad as that, I don't want anything further to do with them.

 

I have checked (without posting) on www.exploristforum.com and although they have come out with a new firmware release that fixed some of the problems, the remaining ones would still drive me crazy.

I have been using the 610 for a couple of months and other than being a bit more file orientated I believe this will give any other unit a run for its money as it is--"I guess by your comments there must never have been any software problems with the other high end units in the past"

 

I just ordered the 710 and it should be here next week. As for the issues that is being talked about here I would think should get straightened out in the future firmware updates, As for being a high end Product model having software problems this seem to happen a lot with most products.

 

I have a Top of the line TomTom I bought a few years ago and it has had several firmware updates some good and some not so good but if Magellan is anything like TomTom I feel they will work out the bugs and come out with fixes. I guess companies feel if they release a product in the field consumers will find the bugs and report it back to them. We become the field testers.

Edited by garcor
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Guys,

don't know which batteries you used ... but my 710 with new 2500 mAh Eneloops works 8hrs+

 

Settings:

Brightness - Max

Backlight Timer - 30sec

Active Suspend Timer - Never

Electronic compass - On

Barometer - On

 

Power up - 10:00 hrs

Shutdown - 18:00 hrs

 

Since I guide a group up/down hill I was using GPS quite frequently plus some researching on the field.

 

So,

it's seems it's time to buy new batteries...

 

D*

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Guys,

don't know which batteries you used ... but my 710 with new 2500 mAh Eneloops works 8hrs+

 

Settings:

Brightness - Max

Backlight Timer - 30sec

Active Suspend Timer - Never

Electronic compass - On

Barometer - On

 

Power up - 10:00 hrs

Shutdown - 18:00 hrs

 

Since I guide a group up/down hill I was using GPS quite frequently plus some researching on the field.

 

So,

it's seems it's time to buy new batteries...

 

D*

 

Try turning your backlight timer off, then you will see how fast your batteries go. My batteries were new powerex 2700 that I have ran through the break-in period on my maha MH-C9000 charger, cannot get much better than that. Just for comparison, those same batteries in a garmin oregon, yield 10 hours of use (with everything on).

Edited by ryan3295
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Try turning your backlight timer off, then you will see how fast your batteries go...

 

Why should I do that??

 

The purpose of going out is to enyoj nature, not looking at gps screen all the time, and when I need to orientate or something like that, then I look at gps and for that 30sec backlight is more then enough.

Don't see the purpose of "backlight on" on gps in the backpack.

 

D*

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but if Magellan is anything like TomTom I feel they will work out the bugs and come out with fixes. I guess companies feel if they release a product in the field consumers will find the bugs and report it back to them. We become the field testers.

 

As the owner of several Magellan and Garmin products, the history of Magellan shows they don't do this. Magellan tends to ABANDON all product support. When they came out with the Explorist GC, they abandoned all support for the Triton's. When they released the Triton, they abandoned all support for the Explorist 100-600 series.

 

Magellan is nothing like TomTom, Magellan has had at least 4 different owners in the past 7 years.

 

Magellan's biggest problem is they don't listen to customers, they only listen to their "insiders program" and the insiders only tell them what Magellan wants to hear (out of fear of losing their "insider" privileges). There is no public beta program (Delorme and Garmin both have this). If Magellan would simply allow us REAL users to download beta software and report to them, it would do wonders for their units.

 

I will tell you right now what is wrong with the 710 (along with all the x10 units). The odometer is off by about 30 percent, the maps are out of date (they don't even have 5 year old interstates on their unit), the battery life is bad, the average mph is way off, touch screen is very buggy, unit slows down when all it's features are in use, magnetic compass requires way too much calibration, fonts can be small, unusable without backlight on, reception lags in any tough enviroment (trees, inside) compared to Garmins and Delormes, takes way too long to auto-route compared to the Garmin Dakota's and give me 5 minutes and I'll come up with some more.

 

I tested and found these errors on the 710 and the GC. The 710 I returned but I do own the GC, which gathers dust)

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There is no public beta program (Delorme and Garmin both have this). If Magellan would simply allow us REAL users to download beta software and report to them, it would do wonders for their units.

 

I'm pretty sure Magellan does have a beta tester, he's just not very good.

 

I will tell you right now what is wrong with the 710 (along with all the x10 units). The odometer is off by about 30 percent, the maps are out of date (they don't even have 5 year old interstates on their unit), the battery life is bad, the average mph is way off, touch screen is very buggy, unit slows down when all it's features are in use, magnetic compass requires way too much calibration, fonts can be small, unusable without backlight on, reception lags in any tough enviroment (trees, inside) compared to Garmins and Delormes, takes way too long to auto-route compared to the Garmin Dakota's and give me 5 minutes and I'll come up with some more.

 

Yeah, but except for all that, it's a great unit! ;-)

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but if Magellan is anything like TomTom I feel they will work out the bugs and come out with fixes. I guess companies feel if they release a product in the field consumers will find the bugs and report it back to them. We become the field testers.

 

As the owner of several Magellan and Garmin products, the history of Magellan shows they don't do this. Magellan tends to ABANDON all product support. When they came out with the Explorist GC, they abandoned all support for the Triton's. When they released the Triton, they abandoned all support for the Explorist 100-600 series.

 

Magellan is nothing like TomTom, Magellan has had at least 4 different owners in the past 7 years.

 

Magellan's biggest problem is they don't listen to customers, they only listen to their "insiders program" and the insiders only tell them what Magellan wants to hear (out of fear of losing their "insider" privileges). There is no public beta program (Delorme and Garmin both have this). If Magellan would simply allow us REAL users to download beta software and report to them, it would do wonders for their units.

 

I will tell you right now what is wrong with the 710 (along with all the x10 units). The odometer is off by about 30 percent, the maps are out of date (they don't even have 5 year old interstates on their unit), the battery life is bad, the average mph is way off, touch screen is very buggy, unit slows down when all it's features are in use, magnetic compass requires way too much calibration, fonts can be small, unusable without backlight on, reception lags in any tough enviroment (trees, inside) compared to Garmins and Delormes, takes way too long to auto-route compared to the Garmin Dakota's and give me 5 minutes and I'll come up with some more.

 

I tested and found these errors on the 710 and the GC. The 710 I returned but I do own the GC, which gathers dust)

 

I realize this isn't the biggest issue that you have with the 710 however you say one of the issues with the 710 is that the average MPH is way off. I am not doubting you but I wonder how you come to that descision.

 

If you are compairing it to your vihicles mph then it is more than likely that you vihicles MPH is off or at least that is the case with all other GPS's.

 

I know that my TomTom and old Magellian Maderian are both more accurate than any vichicle. I have also read about this issue on the TomTom forum.

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First off, I am a caching lifelong user of Magellan Explorist XL and I have bought the 710 because it's the latest and greatest.

 

Here is one of the weirdest things I have noticed so far. Now mind you, the 710 is my backup unit. When my XL dies, then I'll switch over, but not until.

 

I put alkaline batteries in the unit and I played around with it when I first got it, for several hours on a caching trip. I then put it on my desk and left it alone. I checked back with it a couple weeks later and the batteries were dead so I put in the Lithium batteries that came with it. I then shut if off and left it on the desk and didn't touch it for about 3 weeks. I turned it on and batteries were dead. I then put in alkalines again and guess what, 1 week later, the batteries are at half power. What is going on? I am truly making sure the unit is "Powered Off" as the button states and I watch it shutdown. I understand that you can only get 5 hours off of 2 batteries on a day of caching, but losing batteries when it's powered off is ridiculous.

 

One other thing that bothers me that I want to get off my chest is how Magellan treats old units. A friend brought me an old Garmin gps (Map 560 I think it was), it wouldn't accept the old satellites any longer, so we hooked it up to the computer and went to Garmin and downloaded the latest update and BAM, it starts working again. I am a hero!

He then brings me his friend's Magellan Map330 because it stopped accepting the satellites. Nothing. I can't find anything online for an update to this old unit. Am I searching in all the wrong places?

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First off, I am a caching lifelong user of Magellan Explorist XL and I have bought the 710 because it's the latest and greatest.

 

Here is one of the weirdest things I have noticed so far. Now mind you, the 710 is my backup unit. When my XL dies, then I'll switch over, but not until.

 

I put alkaline batteries in the unit and I played around with it when I first got it, for several hours on a caching trip. I then put it on my desk and left it alone. I checked back with it a couple weeks later and the batteries were dead so I put in the Lithium batteries that came with it. I then shut if off and left it on the desk and didn't touch it for about 3 weeks. I turned it on and batteries were dead. I then put in alkalines again and guess what, 1 week later, the batteries are at half power. What is going on? I am truly making sure the unit is "Powered Off" as the button states and I watch it shutdown. I understand that you can only get 5 hours off of 2 batteries on a day of caching, but losing batteries when it's powered off is ridiculous.

 

One other thing that bothers me that I want to get off my chest is how Magellan treats old units. A friend brought me an old Garmin gps (Map 560 I think it was), it wouldn't accept the old satellites any longer, so we hooked it up to the computer and went to Garmin and downloaded the latest update and BAM, it starts working again. I am a hero!

He then brings me his friend's Magellan Map330 because it stopped accepting the satellites. Nothing. I can't find anything online for an update to this old unit. Am I searching in all the wrong places?

 

There has been a quite a bit of discussions regarding batteries life on the Explorist forum and it does seem that the units do drain some power even when they are turned off.

 

(http://www.exploristforum.com)

 

As for your friends Magellan you might also get help on there as there are several Magellan users on the forum. I was able to get a software download for my old Magellan meridian colour back some time ago so depending what unit your friend has .

.

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